Originally posted 12/6/2013, revised 5/10/2022
Last week my 20-month-old granddaughter (now ten years old) suffered a broken pinky as the result of a stroller mishap. A few days after the accident my son-in-law sent me this photo of my granddaughter multi-tasking. After admiring how cute she is in the photo, I started thinking about, of all things, business.
Many “experts” have differing opinions about the effectiveness of multi-tasking, everything from it works, it is efficient, it is possible, to it doesn’t work, it is not efficient, it is impossible. My experience convinces me that the effectiveness of multi-tasking is highly situational. Multi-tasking is a subject onto itself, but not the primary take away from this photo.
The primary business lesson to be gained from my granddaughter is about being adaptable. We all need to be adaptable as to our investment of our time, our plans and our products or services. Obviously, I wrote this before pivot became commonly used. I make the distinction that adaptability is an attitude that allows and supports the act or process of pivoting.
First, let’s address how we invest our time. Think about your typical day, how often during your business day do you find yourself working on items or tasks that were the furthest things from your mind at the beginning of the day? I am willing to bet that even those of you who are very proficient at planning how you invest your time often find yourself off track at some point during your day. So if you are destined to have unplanned activities occupy anywhere from a few moments to major parts of your work day you must become time adaptable.
How often have you read about a very successful company that achieved success after its original business plan failed to yield the results it was seeking. For example, the company we now know as Twitter was in fact founded as Odeo, a podcasting company. When Apple launched iTunes podcasting, and made Odeo’s podcasting platform irrelevant, Evan Williams, CEO, Biz Stone and an Odeo employee named Jack Dorsey decided to create something called Twitter instead. (Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-twitter-was-founded-2011-4#ixzz2lyym7wSj). This turning point displays adaptability at its finest, snatching success from the jaws of failure. Odeo was both plan and product adaptable.
I could site many other examples of companies and owners being adaptable, and I am sure you can add more than a few to my list. The point of this is about having the attitude, mindset and culture that allows, supports, and facilitates being adaptable. When the inevitable challenges of day-to-day business arise, will you complain, display counterproductive behaviors or will you view them as opportunities to learn, outpace your less adaptable competitors and to ultimately succeed?